Two years of discussions and negotiations culminated on Thursday and Friday, as stakeholders from around the world convened for the first-ever United Nations Food Systems Summit. The event had been branded as a “historic opportunity to empower all people to leverage the power of food systems,” both to drive the global recovery from COVID-19 and to help the U.N. achieve its 17 Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. But the lead-up to the summit was laden with controversy, ranging from disagreements over the summit’s special envoy to concerns over the private sector’s influence on the summit’s agenda.
One of the most contentious debates involved calls for the creation of a new “science-policy interface,” or SPI, that could better coordinate the procurement of food-related scientific knowledge.
The idea had been floating around for years — at least since 2015, when scientists from the University of Bonn in Germany proposed the creation of an International Panel on Food and Nutrition. They drew inspiration from existing SPIs like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, which aggregates research on global warming so it can make recommendations to ... Read more